February 19th, 2008
03:21 PM ET
15 years ago

Blitzer: Some superdelegates may be shut out

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/19/iowacaucusnight2008.jpg caption="Florida and Michigan’s superdelegates have been penalized, too."] (CNN) - The superdelegates going to the Democratic convention in Denver at the end of the summer include all the elected Democratic governors, senators, and representatives. Right? Wrong.

Michigan’s Democratic governor, Jennifer Granholm, is not a superdelegate. Neither are Sen. Carl Levin or congressmen John Conyers and John Dingell. The same is the case for Florida’s Democratic senator, Bill Nelson. He won’t be a superdelegate. Neither will representatives Robert Wexler or Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

That’s because Michigan and Florida moved up their primaries into January, before the February 5 Super Tuesday schedule. That broke party rules, and as a result, the Democratic Party stripped them of their pledged and unpledged delegates. The superdelegates are unpledged - meaning they can support any candidate they want.

Thus, the 795 superdelegates at the Democratic convention do not include the 28 who would have come from Michigan and the 22 who would have come from Florida. That could change only if party leaders reconsider their decision.

There is talk of organizing caucuses in both states if the battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama remains deadlocked going into May and June. Organizing full-scale primaries is much more difficult and much more expensive. Hillary Clinton hasn’t done well in caucuses so far.

At the same time, however, she and her supporters believe they can still win those big states. They did “win” the most votes during the January primaries even though none of the candidates could campaign there and Obama’s name wasn’t even on the ballot in Michigan.

I suspect we will see caucuses in Michigan and Florida if this race remains unresolved. That is possible. The Democratic Party big shots would prefer that to a brokered convention on the floor in Denver.

–CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer

Filed under: superdelegates • Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (195 Responses)
  1. Sarah L, Fayetteville, AR

    There is no real fair solution to Michigan and Florida. No one was allowed to campaign in either. I wonder how many people didn't turn out to vote knowing it wouldn't count. How many people voted for a Republican instead because it would count? Ultimately, not seating the delegates disenfranchises the voters who turned out to vote for their candidate–if that candidate was on the ballot.

    However, seating those delegates disenfranchises many who likely did not vote or weren't able to vote for their candidate. It also taints the process when the candidates weren't allowed to campaign. I think it also poses a problem for the states who did wait until Feb 5th or later.

    Additionally, it should be noted that Clinton wants to enforce the rules (Superdelegates) when they favor her, and change them (MI and FL) when they don't. We might need to adopt a rules are rules policy or a popular vote policy. What would Clinton say if the DNC agreed to seat MI and FL in exchange for abolishing the Superdelegates?

    February 19, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  2. Dan from MA

    David Brooks of the NY Times, reported that Obama's PAC gave $ 698,000 to the campaigns of superdelegates (According to the Center for Responsive Politics)...That doesn't sound like a new breed of politics to me... Obama mania is starting to worry me... He hasn't even finished his first senate term, and already he's comparing himself to Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Kennedy? In his speech on Super Tuesday, Obama said that some people thought he needed a reality check...I'm starting to agree with them...

    February 19, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  3. Nancy

    IMO they should organize a caucus. It just amazes me that the american people are only allowed to vote when we are TOLD we can vote. The people of Michigan and Florida did not vote to have the primary moved up but yet they are paying the price of being disenfranchised in this election. A caucus may be the only way to keep the superdelegates from having to choose and thus riots from breaking out which I am sure the media would love to see happen.

    February 19, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  4. Barbara Villers

    I understand that Bill Clinton is a super delegate? Shouldn't he recuse himself if it gets down to voting for Hillary or Barrack? Certainly it is a conflict of interest...from what I hear, he'll be able to vote.

    February 19, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  5. Joe Fantozzi

    Let me see here Super Delegates vote however they want.....The Electoral College can vote however it wants........After the mess in the last presidental election we are still not the shinning democratic republic that we are supposed to be. What are we? The Blind leading The Blind !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Joe USMC

    February 19, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  6. Lisa

    I believe that the voters should be heard. I think all thes votes should count! I also heard that Barack Obama ran ads in Florida prior to the primary there, when no other candidate did. If this is true why isn't the media taklking about it when they discuss this issue. If this is true then why would the florida primary not count since Barack Obama broke the rules. No voter should have there vote eliminated because of party politics. Did they ask the voters how they felt before they made this decision? If the democrats insist on ignoring the votes from Michigan and Florida for the primary I hope they all vote for McCain in the fall, because the democrats won't deserve their votes.

    February 19, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  7. Kevin

    So the message changes from "You broke the rules of our system, you don't get to play." to "Our system is broken, please come play by our new rules."


    February 19, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  8. Bayou Joe

    Let the voters decide. Michigan and Florida need to be heard at the convention. Sounds like old style Democratic politics to me. We know what's best for Ameica so we the elected officials get to choose for you. Now that's very democratic.

    February 19, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  9. Hillary Supporter MD

    They need to allocate delegates to these two states. Hilary has alreday won these states vs holding caucaus here.

    February 19, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  10. Rob,NC

    Good to see that the DNC is considering caucuses in those states. Of course Hillary will probably complain about having a caucus instead of a primary, unless of course she were to win there.

    February 19, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  11. Mary-Lawrence, KS

    A great compromise would be to have firehouse caucuses so the party pays for it instead of the states.... it's still a caucus, but you vote privately.

    February 19, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  12. GaryB

    It just doesn't make sense, Wolf. I just spent two weeks in Florida. I asked two questions of as many people as I could: 1) Did you vote in the Democratic primary?; and 2) Did you know that delegates were not going to be allowed at the convention at the time you voted?

    I found it very hard to even find people who did vote in the Florida primary (granted, I was just one person asking people in a four county area), and those that did vote all knew that they were not sending delegates to the convention. Most said that they just wanted to see the outcome of the vote.

    The only reason to have a 'do-over' is because there is real justification that someone has been done wrong. This was not the case. Bending the rules for Florida and Michigan because non-Floridians and non-Michiganers want them bent simply isn't right.

    February 19, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |


    February 19, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  14. Amy, Kazoo

    The DNC has to do SOMETHING. As a michigan voter, I had no idea what the state was doing with my primary and consequently what the DNC was going to do with my vote and the delegates until it was too late to say anything to try to stop it. I don't understand why it matters so much that these two states moved up their primaries in the first place. I get that it broke a rule, but other than preserving tradition, I see no reason why a state that is in such a dire situation as Michigan is, WOULDN'T want to move it's primary up to garnish more attention. I think that the state legislature had good intentions and I think the punishment far outweighs the crime. Our political, economic, etc landscapes are not the same as they were when these schedules were set up in the first place. Clearly New Hampshire does not share the same magnitude of problems Michigan is facing now. I think it's time that the entire schedule is rewritten, perhaps to take place all in one day. But then, what would we talk about for an entire year leading up to the elections in November?
    Either way, the DNC needs to do something to show good faith to the voters of these states or many, like myself, will simply stop voting altogether.

    February 19, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  15. Matt

    Why not a primary done through mail in ballots? Caucuses are incredibly undemocratic. Men and women serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world obviously cannot caucus. They fight for our freedom. Shouldn't they get a say?

    Or else...just give Hillary the delegates she won in FL and MI!!!

    February 19, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  16. Mac-Daddy

    I cant figure this out, maybe someone a little smarter than me can tell me....Why is it that the super delegates have been in place as long as i remember and nobody said not nary a word until now...its the rules and everybody should play by the rules..am i right?...Florida and Michigan was stripped of their delegates because of the rules..Right?..Ok so why is the super delegates such a fuss...could it be that you think the wrong person may get them?...Just play by the RULES and shut up!!!!

    February 19, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  17. lc


    However, all SUPERDELEGATES should reconsider their

    PPREMATURE support of Hillary based upon Bill's experience.

    February 19, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  18. william

    The city's Board of Elections is coming under heightened scrutiny and may face a grilling from the City Council after initial, unofficial vote results from the February 5 presidential primary undercounted Senator Obama's vote totals and showed him winning no votes in dozens of election districts across the city.

    February 19, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  19. Chicano Art

    These delegates deserve a seat at the table. I believe that ignoring the stated will of Florida and Michigan is dangerous and the DNC could face strong reation or should I say lack of reaction in the general campaign. If rules are rules, then I don't see the problem in Super Delegates deciding the elections. That's the rules.
    Viva Clinton.

    I changed my screen name in an attempt to get some more love from CNN.

    February 19, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  20. Don

    Having a "do-over" is not fair to the candidates or the voters. Millions of Florida residents voted and picked their choice. Obama, bowing to pressure from New Hampshire part leaders, pandered and pulled his name off the Michigan ballot. His choice, his consequences. Clinton did not pander and ended up winning both NH and Michigan. She should not be penalized. You think the super-delegate battle could be bad, just wait until you try to disenfranchise Mich. and Fl. voters. The rest of the country is sick of Iowa throwing their tantrums when they don't get their way.

    February 19, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  21. Steve

    It is more accurate to say that FL and MI signaled they were going to move up their primaries, the DNC *warned* them that if they did they would be stripped of their delegates, then they went ahead and did it anyway.

    Therefor, they are not the victems of fate, they *chose* their fate, so have *not* been disenfranchised by anyone but themselves.

    February 19, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  22. LifeLongDemocrat

    The Florida election was the same for Obama and Clinton. Award the delegates. In Michigan, have another primary and award the delegates. Seat the FL and MI superdelegates. The Republicans at least gave their states half of the delegates when they did not follow the RNC.

    What's so hard about that?

    If we learn nothing else about this election it is that politicians are looking out for #1 (themselves). Don't reelect the obvious ones.

    February 19, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  23. maggie

    Having caucuses in Florida and Michigan would be the same as "giving" those states to Obama! It's no secret that he does better in caususes than Hillary does. I think it's because people don't want others to see them "not voting" for a black man! We are entitled to a "private" vote. Why is no one complaining about that?

    In Florida, none of the candidates campaigned. Both Hillary and Obama were on the ballot...and thousands came out to vote even though they knew their votes may not be counted. More of them voted for Hillary, but a good portion voted for Obama. Why not let them have the percentages that they got?

    Michigan is a different. While it is true that Obama's name was not on the ballot, he took it off himself. He was not forced to do so. Still, 40% of the voters voted "uncommitted". Why not let him have the uncommitted and give Hillary what she earned? Seems simple to me.

    Why should all of those votes be taken away from her by doing causauses when you know that it would probably skew the whole outcome? I don't think the voters would be happy with this solution!

    February 19, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  24. ks

    I think a base requirement for any super delegate should be some form of identification with the average American. I suggest a minimum life-time contribution of at least $50,000 to the Social Security system as a threshold.

    February 19, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  25. chelsea

    The delegates should not be seated when the other cadiadates kept their promises and Obama was not even on the ballot in Michigan. How could they seat them? I would totally support a revote as i do believe it is unfair to disinfranchise the voters because of stupid decisions of the party leaders in their states. a caucus would sufice though another primary would be the ultimate answer. I must point out that this does not show well of HRC and her campaign.....I once thought she could make a difference...but now I am not alone in saying that this woman has showed her true colors....she doesn't care about the American people....she only cares about power at the cost of respect for her own party. If the DNC seats these delegates without a revote it will be a disgrace and it will ruin this party

    February 19, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
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